As the Alberta election campaign comes to a close, and as the P.C.s become frantic, we hear two new arguments being made.
1. Albertans are being told — stridently — that they should not vote N.D.P. because of the example of the Ontario N.D.P. 20 years ago. Yet, Ontario is a long way away. Twenty years is a long time ago. The circumstances were different: Mr. Rae was a different Leader than Ms. Notley is. Perhaps most tellingly, the argument should be avoided because it cuts all ways. If the Alberta N.D.P. can be judged on the record of the Ontario N.D.P. of 20 years ago, then the Alberta P.C. Party can be judged on the record of the Saskatchewan (Devine) Progressive Conservative government of recent memory. Actually, the record of the Devine government may have rubbed off on the Alberta P.C.s more than most of us suspect. Saskatchewan is much closer than Ontario, and much more like Alberta than Ontario is. And Education Minister Dirks was also a Minister in the Devine government. He sat in the same Cabinet as did those other Ministers who went to jail.
I hope readers will forgive me my sarcasm. I am only trying to make the point that it is desperate politics to suggest Albertans should not vote for an Alberta Party because of what a party bearing the same name did in another province in days gone by.
Albertans should focus on who is doing well or poorly in the campaign in Alberta, who has done well or poorly on the record in this province. The issue remains — character, integrity, humility, respect, justice, careful stewardship of resources.
2. In the same vein, conservative Albertans are being told that they must gravitate to the P.C. Party in order to forestall an N.D.P. victory. Leaving aside the reality — that the N.D.P. are no more extreme than is the W.R.P. — if conservative voters want to practice strategic voting the survey results are almost unanimous in suggesting that they should vote W.R.P., which is stronger in most polls than is the P.C. Party. Just on the numbers, overcoming the conservative split should not sent W.R.P. conservatives to the P.C. Party: it should send P.C. conservatives to the W.R.P.
There is another reason who most conservatives should vote W.R.P.
In my experience, there are two kinds of conservative parties in Alberta. I will call one kind the “glass tower” conservatives. A glass tower conservative party is dominated by the 1%, the people who occupy the C-suites and pay $500.00/plate to attend a Leader’s dinner. Certainly, the ‘establishment’ of the P.C. Party make it a “glass tower” conservative party. I would argue that Ms. Smith tried to make the W.R.P. a better “glass tower” conservative party. She was trying to beat the P.C.s at their own game, which is what made her susceptible to the blandishments of Mr. Prentice and Mr. Manning. With the departure of Ms. Smith’s the W.R.P. has begun to morph into what I would call a grassroots conservative party — populist, full of ferver, and full of person-by-person energy. At the moment, I have no idea how the morphing will end, but I will say that the W.R.P. now represents the ferver of populist conservatism. Populist conservatives in Alberta who are attracted to strategic voting should vote W.R.P. They will be getting just what they think they are getting.